Merck Manual

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Some Causes and Features of Nosebleeds

Some Causes and Features of Nosebleeds

Cause*

Common Features† and Tests

Common

Blowing or picking the nose

A blow or other injury to the nose

In people who report such behavior or injuries

Drying of the moist membranes lining the nose, as may occur in cold weather

Usually dryness that is seen during the examination

Less common

Nasal infections (such as a cold or sinusitis)

Nasal discharge, sometimes thick or discolored, and crusting in the nostrils

Often pain and drying of the moist membranes lining the nose

Systemic disorders, such as severe liver disease or AIDS

In people who are known to have such disorders

A foreign object (body) in the nose, mainly in children

Often recurring nosebleeds and/or a foul-smelling discharge from one side of the nose

Usually in older people

Dilated small blood vessels (telangiectasias) on the face, lips, membranes lining the mouth and nose, and tips of the fingers and toes

Usually in people with family members who have the disorder

Tumors (noncancerous or cancerous) of the nose or sinuses

Sometimes a mass that can be seen inside the nose

Bulging of the side of the nose

Computed tomography (CT) may be done

A hole (perforation) in the nasal septum (which divides the interior of the nose in two)

A hole that can be seen during the examination

Sometimes in people who snort cocaine frequently

Bleeding disorders (coagulopathies)

In people who have had nosebleeds or other bleeding in other areas, such as the gums

Blood tests, such as a complete blood cell count and tests to measure how quickly blood clots, may be done

* Conditions that can cause nosebleeds are more likely to cause nosebleeds in people who also have a bleeding disorder or who take drugs that interfere with blood clotting. In such people, bleeding is often more severe and difficult to treat.

† Features include symptoms and results of the doctor's examination. Features mentioned are typical but not always present.